Its crazy to think that my first semester of college I couldn't stand being an hour and a half away from home and now, here I am, extending my stay by a month on the other side of the world.
I recently read a quote that said:
"Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown."
And I have to agree wholeheartedly.
Even though I still have a little over a month left in New Zealand I wanted to take some time to reflect on my past 4 and a half months here.
Despite the fact that I've been living in an English-speaking, Westernized country, there are so many differences between New Zealand and where I grew up in the States. I've begun to miss the most unexpected things like the hash browns at Waffle House, watching American TV shows on the couch with my mom, and driving my own car. Being without these things has made me really appreciate every small luxury (and every food) I have taken for granted growing up- especially central heating and cooling!
Separation from every familiar thing to move to a foreign place and live with strangers has honestly brought out the best and worst in me. While being a world away from my comfort zone of South Carolina, USA, I've had my happiest, most fulfilling times, and I've had my loneliest times. I've come to really understand the value of quality time with people who genuinely know and understand me - a thing that can be hard to find this far away from home, but that I have been lucky enough to find in a few cherished friendships I've developed while in NZ.
My last 4 months were full of self- realization and plans for the future, both of which have led me to know now, more than ever, what I truly want to do in my life and the path I'll take to get there. I've come to value my roots in South Carolina and deeply respect my parents and how they raised me, because it really takes being away from people and places to fully appreciate their value to the extent that they deserve.
My favorite part about my personal experience in New Zealand is that I have been blessed enough to become close to a few New Zealanders. Knowing them has helped me experience the NZ culture to its fullest, which is something I wouldn't change for the world.
I'm going to come back to Greenville, SC on July 22nd as a more independent and thankful person. I left in February and I will be returning, 5 month later, knowing that I've met people and seen places that have changed my life forever.